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Rothesay parishKingarth parishKilbride parishKilmorie parishCumbrae

Island of Bute Island of Arran The Cumbraes
Kingarth Kilbride Cumbrae
Rothesay Kilmorie  



OSA links are to the Edina site - go to "browse scanned pages." NSA links are to the Google Books site. Additional information about parishes can be found on the Vision of Britain site.

The map of Bute below is from the 1923 OS quarter-inch map, sheet 4. With thanks. The map on the left and of Arran courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. These are copyright Cartography Associates but have been made available under a Creative Commons license for non-commercial use.

Island of Bute

Two packet boats each week between Rothesay and Largs and Greenock. Weekly ferry from Scoulag to the Largs.


St Blanes - click for larger imageLime supplied to the whole island and also exported from Kilchattan Bay.
Rothesay is the market town. Charter of 1703 for Mount Stuart to become a burgh of regality – right to hold markets, fairs, ports, trades etc – not implemented.
No public transport. Nearest post office is Rothesay.
Roads good and suitable for carriages.
Wharfs at Kilchattan Bay and at Scoulag – coal landed there. Communications with the mainland much improved.
Excellent sightlines from Dunagoil.
St Blane’s Chapel served the whole island at one time


Rothesay Castle

Coal is brought in from Glasgow and is expensive. Peat also used.

Served as a market where Highlanders and Western Islanders could trade with Lowlanders. This trade and the town were badly affected by the founding of Campbelltown c.1700.
Inchmarnock belonged to the monastery of Saddell in Kintyre.
Excellent cheese.
Cockles collected at St Ninians Bay and sent to Glasgow.
Seven steam vessels each day to Glasgow – these travel at 11 mph. The first steamer was in 1814.
Thriving market town. Post each day from Greenock and Glasgow.
The roads are funded by statute labour and the Marquis of Bute – no tolls.
Three poorly attended fairs.
Coal from Glasgow and Ayrshire.

Other references
1. Treasury Accounts
(see reference in Origines Parochiales Scotiae, Vol 2, pt 1, page 241)
Payment to Robert Spens, quarrier of slates for 13,000 slates and their carriage to the sea and towards Dunbretane (Dumbarton) for the repairing of the castle £11.10s.
Payments to husbandmen of Bute for mailmartis (cattle) to be driven from Arnele (Ardneil near Portencross) to Strivelyne (Stirling) and Edinburgh; also from Bute to Stirling, and Bute and Arane to the Torwod (near Stirling)
Cod delivered from Arane to Dunbretane and then to Strivelyne
Fee for operating the ferries between Bute and Cowale
Transport of wine from Stirling to Bute for the King (OPS)

2. History of the County of Bute, J Eaton Reid, 1864
No public high roads or bridges built before 1764 when a statute labour committee was formed. The roads in Kingarth parish were supervised by Lord Bute’s factor; those in Rothesay and up to the ferries of Rue and Kilmichael by Mr Blair (i.e. Blair's Ferry at Kilmichael and Rudhbadoch). Roads in the Cummermenoch district from Rothesay to St Ninian’s Point were supervised by Mr Stewart and Mr Campbell (page 120).
1665 Residents of Rothesay required to pay towards paving of streets.
1700 Blair's Ferry - admonition not to carry passengers on the Sabbath (The Isle of Bute in Olden Time, James King Hewison, 1895, vol 2, page 275). Blair's Ferry was at Kilmichael on the north-west side of the island and crossed over to Kames. Marie Weir (Ferries in Scotland, p.148) notes that c.1800 it also crossed to Skipness in Kintyre.
1765 Mention of a cattle market to be held in Rothesay. As an incentive there would be a boat at Rothesay and Scoulag Burn Foot to ferry animals to Largs and upriver, free of charge.
1769 Bridge over the Water of Rothesay built at a cost of £41.6.3.
1768 Roads in Rothesay given names viz. Castle St, High St, Watergate etc.
1772 Roads, bridges and quays in Rothesay improved.
1794 Guns must not be fired on public roads at weddings.
1813 Archibald Stewart of Ascog building a road by Laigh Barony and the Bay of Ascog to join the high road at Kerrycroy.
1822 Request to the Post Master General that the mail which comes from Largs and Kerrycroy in an open sailing boat be delivered by steamboat from Greenock.
1837 Committee appointed to walk the streets on a Sunday and “mildly admonish such as may be guilty of Sabbath indecorum.”
Mention of ferry at Scoulag in 1680 – the ferryman had to make victuals, drink and lodging available. Ferry from Dunagoil to Arran set up in 1684 but didn’t pay (page 98)

3. Roads in 1859
There is useful supplementary information for Bute and Arran here.


Roads in Bute in the 1880's4. Bute Road Board and Road Trust

Board formed 1882; 20 members
Bute & Inchmarnock, Arran, Cumbrae districts
Initially the Road Board took over four roads in Bute, 19 in Arran, none in Cumbrae

  Road Board
  Lord Bute
  Port Bannatyne roads
Replacement road for the original line that ran through Mt Stuart policies
  Rothesay burgh roads
Other road - Rothesay to Kerrycroy

The roads in red were those adopted by the Road Board; those in purple were maintained by Lord Bute and later were taken over by the Board. The short lengths of road in Port Bannatyne were also taken over.

Source: Minute Book of Buteshire Road Trustees and Road Board - C05/2/1/1 Glasgow Archives (Mitchell Library)


Island of Arran
There is a mile of cart road from a slate quarry to the shore at Lochranza.

Due to the supply of wood on the island being used up and before the planting of trees, all wood had to be brought from Ayrshire.
There is no market town on the island. Cattle and produce are taken to the mainland by steam-boat, particularly to Ardrossan and Saltcoats. In the summer there is a steam-boat service to Glasgow.
There are annual fairs in Lamlash and Brodick. At Lamlash mostly horses are traded; the Brodick fair is busier and has people attending from the mainland.
The post office is in Saltcoats with regular services to two sub-offices in this parish.

From Gorton Alister, just south of Lamlash, up to Brodick there is a Parliamentary road. It was macadamized last year and has always been kept in good condition. In 1817 this road was extended north as far as Sannox and at its southern end around the south of the island to the Blackwater river. This was at the expense of the Duke of Hamilton, with maintenance being carried out under the statute labour.

Other roads are one made by the Duke of Hamilton from Lamlash to Benicarragan in the south of the island and a Parliamentary road from Brodick to the Blackwater.

All that is needed to complete the road system is to link Lochranza with Sannox and to build bridges over Ashdale Burn and the rivers of south and north Sannox.

Peat available locally. Coal is brought in from Ardrossan and Ayr.

Several hundred black cattle are taken to Ayrshire each year. Barley is taken to Greenock, Saltcoats, Irvine, Ayr and Campbeltown.

With no market town or market in the parish, goods are taken to Ayr, Ardrossan or Campbeltown. A packet-boat runs from Southend to Ayr and another from Blackwater to Campbeltown. Proper and safer harbours would be a great advantage.

A Parliamentary road in excellent condition runs from Blackwater Foot to Brodick. A good road runs along the shore between Blackwater Foot and Largybeg; and another from Benecarigan to Lamlash. The latter road was made at the expense of the Duke of Hamilton by those who were in arrears of rent. The other road was made by the statute labour and both are maintained under this system. Tenants are required to work three days on roads, mill-dams and water courses and are called out by district in rotation by an overseer. There are bridges on the Duke's property except at Blackwater, Machey and Iorsa on the confines of the land where adjacent to Mrs Westenra's land - the roads on this land are poor and there are no bridges.

The nearest post offices are in Brodick and Lamlash, served by steam packet from Saltcoats.

Horse fairs are held at Lag and Shedog.

Peat is used as fuel though those near the coast may use coal.

Other references
History of the County of Bute, J Eaton Reid, 1864, page 140
The parliamentary roads from Gerton M'Alister, just south of Lamlash to Brodick and from Brodick to Blackwaterfoot were made in 1811. These were extended in 1817 to Sannox and around the south of the island to Blackwaterfoot. There were also roads made through Moniemore Glen and Glen Scarodale and to Benan. In 1843 the road was extended from Sannox to Lochranza. There is also a rough road round the west side of the island from Loch Ranza.

There are regular steamboat services.

Island of Cumbrae
At this time the Cumbraes were part of Ayrshire. The account says that little was done to the roads except between Millport and the ferry to Largs.

By the time of the NSA, Cumbrae had been transferred to Argyleshire. The only regularly constructed road was that between Millport and the ferry but the use of this was being overtaken by direct sailings from Millport.